Economy

Rising cost of living dents April retail sales

UK retail sales decreased 1.7% on a like-for-like basis from April 2021, when they had increased 39.6%

Retail sales decreased by 0.3% in April compared with the year prior, marking the first decline in 15 months as the rising cost of living starts to affect shoppers’ spending habits. 

According to the latest data from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and KPMG’s retail sales monitor covering the four weeks 3 – 30 April 2022, the April decrease is set against an increase of 51.1% in April 2021. This is below the three-month average growth of 3.2% and the 12-month average growth of 6.4%.

UK retail sales decreased 1.7% on a like-for-like basis from April 2021, when they had increased 39.6%. This was also below the three-month average growth of 0.1% and the 12-month average growth of 3.3%.

Over the three months to April, food sales decreased 1.8% on a like-for-like basis and 1.3% on a total basis. In comparison, non-food retail sales increased by 1.8% on a like-for-like basis and 6.9% on a total basis h however, this is still below the 12-month total average growth of 11.1%. For the month of April, non-food was in decline year-on-year.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC, said: “The rising cost of living has crushed consumer confidence and put the brakes on consumer spending. Sales growth has been slowing since January, though the real extent of this decline has been masked by rising inflation. 

“Big ticket items have been hit hardest, as consumers reigned in spending on furniture, electricals and other homeware; compounded by delays on goods coming from China. Meanwhile, thanks to the April sunshine, garden goods and fashion saw stronger sales, particularly occasionwear as consumers prepared for summer and this year’s wedding season.”

She added: “Customers face a difficult year; with the Bank of England predicting inflation to reach more than 10%. Retailers are experiencing higher costs as a result of rising commodity prices, transport costs, labour shortages, delays at ports, and the war in Ukraine. 

“Further headwinds are incoming, such as rising global food prices, which rose 13% between March and April. Retailers will continue to do all they can to mitigate the effects of these costs rises, but unfortunately they cannot absorb them all.”

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